Asking for a Friend: Is It Bad to Hold Your Pee?
We asked a doc for the real deal on holding your pee, plus what the risks (if any) are to your health.
If you do your kegels on the reg, you probably have a bladder of steel. Lunch meeting going 30 minutes over schedule? You'll hold it. Stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic after throwing back a large latte? No sweat (err, pee?). But even though you can hold it, is it bad to hold your pee? (Related: Does Your Vagina Need Help Exercising?) The answer depends on a few factors, according to Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center.
"For young, healthy women, there's very little risk to holding your urine. The urine will remain in the bladder until you relax the sphincter (a muscle that controls your urine) and release it," says Dr. Hutcherson. "For older women, or women who have recently given birth, this may be difficult. And holding urine for these women may lead to leakage past a certain point." Still, even though holding your pee for an extended period of time isn't exactly fun, the risk to your health is minimal.
But there's one small caveat. Holding your pee could put you at an increased risk for a bladder infection, especially if you skip your bathroom break after sex. "During sex, bacteria is pushed through the short urethra and into the bladder," says Dr. Hutcherson. "Most women will urinate the bacteria out and won't get infections, but some women are more susceptible to bladder infections after sex."
The bottom line? Make sure you pee before and after sex, then keep calm and kegel on. (See also: What's the Deal with Peeing After Sex?)